The plaintiffs allege that the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) is using a diversity technique called “banding,” which treats all promotional test scores within a certain range as the same. They claim the technique promotes female and minority candidates with lower scores over white men, The San Francisco Chronicle reported.
“The city — to this day — has a long-standing practice and custom of discriminating against white males in SFPD promotions to the rank of sergeant, lieutenant and captain,” the officers’ attorney said in the suit.
The SFPD started to use “banding” in 1973 after a group of black and female officers sued the force for bias against them in promotions. The technique also factors in experience and language skills. The suit alleges the continued use of “banding” is illegal because the 1979 settlement with black and female officers expired in 1998, The Chronicle reported.
The suit claims that three black candidates were promoted in 2016 over 11 white candidates with higher scores because of “banding” and four women have been promoted over seven men with higher scores.
A SFPD spokesman said the department “uses lawful, merit-based civil service examinations in making promotions,” and is “designed to provide qualified individuals with the chance for advancement while ensuring fair treatment without regard to race, gender, religion, age or other status.”
One of the plaintiffs settled for $1.6 million in a similar suit 16 years ago. A thirteenth officer joined the suit, alleging bias because she is a white lesbian, according to The Chronicle.